Shrewd trainers often specifically target the Lincoln run over a mile at Doncaster (2.45pm, Saturday live on Channel 4 TV).
That’s what David O’Meara (pictured) has done with Lord Of The Land, the 9/2 favourite in the bookies’ Lincoln betting. This five-year-old French import has a very similar profile to Mondialiste who was second for the stable last year.
Lord Of The Land was bought at Arqana bloodstock sales for 110,000 euros in October having scored at Fontainebleau over this distance for Andre Fabre a month earlier. The horse that finished closest to him, Smaga’s Don Bosco, is now rated 108. Lord Of The Land also won his previous start over a shorter distance on the all-weather at Deauville in August. In both those runs he was kept close to the pace. Hold-up tactics had produced very disappointing results in his previous two outings.
O’Meara has kept this son of Shamardal at home, laying him out for this race. Lord Of The Land has a lot in his favour. He did well on his seasonal debut on the straight mile at Maisons-Laffitte a year ago. He was beaten less than a length by Don Bosco when giving him half a stone. He has succeeded on ground described as good and heavy in France so conditions should not be a concern. He won first time out as a three year old and obviously performs well fresh. The reports on his work at home have been extremely positive. The problem is that his price has contracted so much that he is no longer attractive.
His stablemate Birdman (16/1) has also scored on a variety of surfaces but his mark has soared since he joined O’Meara a year ago. It looks as if this six-year-old might need more than Josh Doyle’s 5lb claim to win here.
Richard Fahey has won two of the past four renewals of this race and is a ‘go to trainer’ in any valuable handicap. His most fancied contender Right Touch could have been one here but did not make the cut. That leaves Fahey saddling three. Heaven’s Guest (25/1) is not without hope if you look back to his win at Ascot on soft ground in July. He beat Balty Boys a head off a mark of 103 when benefitting from Jack Garritty’s 3lb claim. That was over seven furlongs and he ‘just held on’. Adam McNamara takes 7lb off his back here. If he gets the extra furlong on testing ground he could put in a decent performance.
Stamina could be an issue for Fahey’s thoroughly exposed eight-year-old son of Exceed And Excel, Farlow (25/1). He finished a close third here last time out in November on heavy ground over seven furlongs. He lost second at the post and may well struggle to get the distance again under Sammy Jo Bell.
Rene Mathis (33/1) is similarly exposed and looks unlikely to provide his vociferous owner, Dr Marwan Koukash, with his second consecutive Lincoln winner. This six-year-old son of Monsieur Bond was tried over a mile for the first time on his last outing at Ascot in October on good to soft. He weakened when it mattered and finished midfield. Stamina is going to be important.
Whilst Fahey is triple-handed, Ed McMahon’s hopes of success rest with just one runner, Express Himself (10/1). This five-year-old should have no problem with the distance and looks to have realistic claims. He finished midfield in the Cambridgeshire last year but found himself in the centre of the track when the serious action unfolded on the far side. He won next time out at Haydock in October over a mile on good to soft off a mark of 93. He missed the break but still got up to beat the useful Mitchum Swagger. The handicapper raised him 8lb for that effort. He has not been seen since.
As a son of Dylan Thomas we can expect Express Himself to improve with age. The stable is in extremely good form this season too. 12 runners have yielded a winner and five placings. McMahon knows the time of day when it comes to people as well as horses. He once described Team Valor’s Barry Irwin as ‘an obnoxious so-and-so’ after he criticised McMahon’s handling of a horse that was bought (and moved to the US) by Valor.
Express Himself is usually pretty keen when fresh so the likely strong pace should aid his cause. Jim Crowley has ridden him twice and won. He takes the ride again here and will start from stall seven, next to the favourite in six. He has to be one for the shortlist.
A jockey who is renowned for making a difference to any horse’s chances is Ryan Moore. He is partnering Jeremy Noseda’s Bravo Zolo (8/1). This four-year-old was last seen winning a handicap over nine and a half furlongs at Wolverhampton under Crowley off a mark of 97 at the end of February. He has been raised to 101 and has a 5lb penalty to shoulder as a result of that recent success.
Bravo Zolo’s four wins (from nine starts) have all been on the all-weather, two at Kempton and two at Wolverhampton. Soft ground is the unknown. Moore’s assistance is invaluable but his booking has been amply reflected in Bravo Zolo’s price. Noseda’s stable has started the season well but other runners are possibly better treated and provide superior value.
Another fancied contender in the Lincoln betting is Godolphin’s Udododontu (10/1). He was bought out of Richard Guest’s yard last year after he won a handicap at York in May and finished a close second to War Envoy in the Britannia at Royal Ascot. He was owned by Guest’s wife Alison so the family probably earned plenty from the transaction.
Now trained by Saeed Bin Suroor, Udododontu was sent to Dubai and ran in a couple of handicaps. He won one in January and was touched off by his less fancied stablemate, Carry On Deryck, in another in mid February. Secret Brief (20/1) finished just over a length behind him in third for Charlie Appleby.
Some horses benefit from being wintered in a warmer climate but quite a few take a while to re-acclimatise. Both of these four-year-olds are open to plenty of improvement but the travel factor lessens their appeal.
The canny Karl Burke’s You’re Fired (16/1) has only been to France where he was last seen finishing midfield in a listed race on heavy ground at Chantilly in late November. He had previously scored at Nottingham, beating Storm Rock (12/1) a neck off level weights earlier that month and won at York in October. Both successes were over a mile and half a furlong on soft.
You’re Fired should enjoy the underfoot conditions but starting from stall 19 looks less than ideal. Storm Rock is his trainer Harry Dunlop’s first Lincoln runner. Dunlop is confident that his charge will enjoy conditions too but thinks that ‘it’s a pretty tough task’ to beat some of the less exposed types in the line-up.
Our Preview’s Lincoln Betting Tip
There are no hard and fast rules for picking a Lincoln winner, both favourites and outsiders have come in. O’Meara’s Lord Of The Land (9/2) is an obvious contender but his price in any race of this type is prohibitive.
There are question marks over many of the most fancied runners but Express Himself fits the bill as a relatively unexposed type and the stable are in great form.